Africa must start planning early for a polio-free future. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) is committed to protecting a polio-free world in the long term and ensuring that the investments made in polio eradication over the last 25+ years contribute to future health goals once polio eradication is complete (Objective #4 of the Polio Eradication & Endgame Strategic Plan).
Even as the polio eradication initiative redoubles its efforts to achieve regional certification in 2017, Africa needs to plan for the eventual ramp down of GPEI support. GPEI support for polio-funded resources (outlined below) will gradually reduce over the next three years, as regional and global certification of polio eradication draws closer. In preparation for this ramp down, country governments, donors, implementing partners and civil society must work together to plan for a successful transition.
Over nearly three decades, the polio eradication initiative established a significant presence in Africa:
• A large trained workforce on the continent, including a network of thousands of national technical staff; over 4,000 partner-supported technical personnel; tens of thousands of engaged religious leaders, polio survivors and social mobilizers; and hundreds of thousands of trained vaccinators at the local level
• A system for standardized, real-time surveillance with 16 dedicated laboratories and 51 environmental sampling sites in seven countries
• A stronger vaccine supply chain and detailed mapping of nomadic and hard-to-reach communities previously unreached by other health services
• Robust processes for using data to hold individuals and systems accountable for results based on strong operational data collection, realtime monitoring, and transparent reporting mechanisms